Florence Foster Jenkins was a real person, a very rich, very deluded daughter of a wealthy Pittsburgh physician, who settled in New York and proceeded to launch her own career as a soprano soloist, despite the fact that she could not sing. By the time of her death in 1944, Florence had gained great fame because of a unique combination of qualities: She had an absolutely dreadful voice, an unshakable conviction that she was a uniquely gifted singer whom audiences loved, and enough inherited money to finance her concert career, buoyed by the happy misapprehension that the crowds who flocked to hear her did so out of genuine appreciation of her talent. To see Stephen Temperley’s "Souvenir" — which continues only through April 27 at Westport Community Theatre — is like attending one of Florence’s actual concerts. It's worth it, says Newtown Bee Theater Reviewer Julie Stern.
The Resiliency Center of Newtown (RCN) has invited the public to celebrate next weekend the healing that has already been done through the center’s programs while offering financial support for future offerings at an “Evening Under The Stars” May 2 at The Waterview in Monroe. RCN offers long-term healing to anyone in the greater Newtown community impacted by the events of 12/14, to help these individuals reach their full potential. Founder Stephanie Cinque has, since September 2013, arranged for music, art, and even chocolate therapy programs to take place at 153 South Main Street. RCN Office Manager Jennifer Holguin says the event is not only a fundraiser for RCN, but also a reminder, to offer an “awareness of what we do so we can increase our outreach to the community.” Last Friday afternoon, about 15 children joined artist and former Newtown resident Dave Brooker to create a very special piece of art that will be a focal point of next weekend's event.
To celebrate the installation of a new digital movie projector and an upgraded sound system, Edmond Town Hall will host free screenings of "Gravity" and "Frozen Sing-A-Long" this weekend. Ingersoll Auto of Danbury, which has provided free movies one Saturday night each month since January 2013, has offered to cover six additional screenings for residents who would like to enjoy a free movie on April 25 or 26.
Members of Newtown Woman’s Club, GFWC, are hoping residents will purchase American flags to benefit the veterans at Rocky Hill Veterans Home & Hospital and West Haven Veterans Hospital. The flags, each with a ribbon attached naming the honoree, the branch of the military, and the date served or currently serving, can be purchased to honor family members and friends who have served or are serving in the military. The flags will be displayed at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Main Street for Memorial Day. Flags cost $5 each and all funds raised will support the veterans.
Spring is in the air, and for allergy sufferers, that is not necessarily good news. It does not matter where one goes. Allergens are found in every climate. Nearly 50 millions people suffer from seasonal allergies, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Seasonal rhinitis, or “hay fever” (even though it does not often involve hay or a fever), is the body’s abnormal reaction to pollen. Seen as an unwanted invader, the body produces antibodies, which attach to certain white blood cells. Future exposure means that those antibodies are ready to fight. The cells burst, releasing huge amounts of histamine into the system and — allergy symptoms go wild. Two area doctors spoke with The Newtown Bee about this seasonal challenge, offering different options for attending to the debilitating symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Two young adults from Newtown have done what they can to make Easter a little nicer this year for 30 strangers. The friends, Capri Agresta and Rachel D’Ausilio, decided last month that they wanted to put together Easter baskets “to help people “to help people who might not have the opportunities we have, so that they could have a nice Easter,” Capri said Tuesday afternoon. She and Rachel, along with Rachel’s mother Lisa, went to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven and Harmony House in Danbury on April 15. The girls had the opportunity to deliver 14 baskets to the children’s hospital and another nine to the temporary shelter a few hours before they spoke with The Newtown Bee. Seven additional baskets were put together for elderly, shut-in members of the church the Agresta family attends.
Athol Fugard is widely and properly recognized as one of the world’s greatest living playwrights. We in Connecticut are fortunate that so many of his works receive their premieres here, earlier at Yale Rep and now at Long Wharf, where recent recent years have featured a trio of gripping dramas. Long Wharf was also the venue, in January 1997, for a production of "The Road to Mecca" starring the late Julie Harris. Now Long Wharf is producing a new work by Fugard, "The Shadow of a Hummingbird." What is special about this one is that the main role is performed by the playwright himself.
More than two dozen members of Newtown Senior Center enjoyed a musical treat last week, when Bethel musician Billy Michaels, on vocals and guitar, shared his considerable enthusiasm for the American heritage of songs. Kicking off the afternoon performance on April 10 with the seasonal “Easter Bonnet,” he moved smoothly into a series of other classic songs from the 1900s, and 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, including “Piano Roll Blues,” “Baby Face,” and a song he said was the “biggest American hit of all times,” the 1892 “After The Ball,” which sold over 2 million copies of sheet music that year. The afternoon of music got even better, though, when Mr Michaels, who has entertained at the center numerous times, introduced a local talent many had not had the pleasure of hearing before Thursday. Stephanie Paproski, a 2008 graduate of Newtown High School, added her vocals first to a set of country songs, and later to a medley of Beatles songs, accompanied by Mr Michaels.